Exquisite playing from the 2017 winner of the Concours Musical International de Montréal
A Sunday morning piano recital in which the featured composers are Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Robert Schumann sounds pleasant enough, but when the playing is of the standard delivered by Hungarian pianist Zoltán Fejérvári it can lead to an hour that has that feeling of understated perfection. This is because Fejérvári’s playing proved to be quite dramatic, and yet this was not the element that necessarily hit the listener, since he never went to extremes. He demonstrated superlative technique throughout, and whatever he injected into any moment was entirely appropriate for the occasion, meaning that he never once sacrificed an ounce of musicality.
The programme opened with Beethoven’s Fantasia in G minor Op. 77 (1809), in which Fejérvári transitioned from the initial downward tumbling phrase to the more lyrical ones with breathtaking ease. Managing the contrast is a key component of the piece, but the manner in which he brought it out while providing an overarching sense of smoothness and continuity was notable, and his abilities in this area were to prevail throughout the piece.
This was followed by Mozart’s Adagio in B minor K540 (1788), in which Fejérvári gave the piece a delicacy that on the one hand brought its senses of intrigue, eeriness and disquiet into focus, and on the other gave it an ethereal and hence uplifting quality as if it was capturing a sense of infinite flow.
“…when the playing is of the standard delivered by Hungarian pianist Zoltán Fejérvári it can lead to… understated perfection”
With the very briefest of pauses, allowing no time for applause, Fejérvári moved straight from the Mozart into Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat D899 No. 3 (1827). This proved a masterstroke, because it highlighted the contrasts between these pieces that might be seen as epitomising Classical and Romantic piano writing respectively. In Fejérvári’s hands, those contrasts became all the more poignant because paradoxically there are similarities as well. As Fejérvári revealed, here once again is a piece in which the more one digs deep and explores what is beneath the surface the more something ethereal rises out of it. Nevertheless, one was also left thinking that, though the Schubert was written nearly forty years after the Mozart and was undoubtedly very different, it did not necessarily feel forty years more advanced. This point, however, is not intended to cast any doubt on the brilliance of the Impromptu in G flat, but rather to highlight just how incredible Mozart’s creations were in his own era.
The programme ended with Schumann’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor Op. 11 (1832-35). One of the most captivating elements of the performance was the manner in which the balance between the left and right hands remained perfect throughout the thirty minute piece, whether they were working in sync on a passage or the left hand was suddenly leaping out and over the right. Those sitting to the left of the auditorium could have seen the reflection of Fejérvári’s hands in the piano itself, thus manifesting further what they were hearing which was, quite simply, poetry in motion.
For details of all of Zoltán Fejérvári’s recordings and future events visit his website.
For dates and details of the upcoming Sunday morning concerts visit the Wigmore Hall website.